Calls for Taoiseach to issue public statement

Thursday 03 May 2007 00.06
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Trevor Sargent - A statement by the Taoiseach would serve the public
Trevor Sargent - A statement by the Taoiseach would serve the public
Mary Lou McDonald - Electorate has 'a right to know' about finances
Mary Lou McDonald - Electorate has 'a right to know' about finances

There have been calls for Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to make a personal statement on his finances.

The calls follow the revelation that Mr Ahern's former partner received a large sum in cash in the 90s which he says went towards stamp duty and renovations to his rented house.

The Greens were the first to raise the issue this morning as leader Trevor Sargent launched his party's tax policy.

Mr Sargent said the issue needed to be clarified. He claimed the public good would be better served by transparency, rather than by hiding behind the tribunals.

Labour leader Pat Rabbitte has said he was happy to let the Mahon Tribunal investigate what he described as 'the Taoiseach's byzantine financial affairs'.

He added that he had never heard of stamp duty being paid on a rented house.

Sinn Féin's Dublin Central candidate Mary Lou McDonald also said Mr Ahern should answer any outstanding questions about his finances.

She said the electorate had a right to know all the information about monies he or his former partner received.

But Fianna Fáil Dublin West Candidate Brian Lenihan said Mr Ahern had already made a personal statement last October and the only new information related to a private citizen who was a good friend of the Taoiseach.

PD leader Michael McDowell has said he will not turn the election campaign into a mini tribunal on the Taoiseach's finances when the Mahon inquiry had decided that it would be unfair to conduct hearings ahead of 24 May.

Mr McDowell said he was satisfied that the Irish people had been governed well in the last five years and the real question was would that continue after an election that was not about what happened in Manchester in the 90s.

Mr Ahern repeated today that he will deal with the matter at the Mahon Tribunal.